Tuesday December 11, 2012

DOVER -- A local marketing company has been busy figuring out ways to bring more visitors to the Deerfield Valley.

"Visibility is the primary goal of the company," said Phil Gilpin, owner of Green Mountain Vermont Marketing Group. "In the next year, more people will start recognizing Green Mountain Vermont."

Gilpin has been busy buying advertising in the Boston area, which includes everything except television commercials. He is now exploring advertising options in New York. The idea is to compete with the other areas of Vermont that may have more marketing.

"It’s more bringing eyeballs to southern Vermont, instead of places like Jay Peak or Stowe."

The company will be a year old on Jan. 1. It started as a way to promote the natural beauty and culture of the valley.

Gilpin’s family bought the West Dover Inn eight years ago and he came to town two years ago to help them.

"I never would have found these things if I hadn’t been living here day in and day out. I wondered, ‘How do you expose the awesomeness of this valley to the outside world so they know to come here?’"

Gilpin attended a Selectboard meeting early in November requesting funds from the town for the Green Mountain Adventure Challenge, which was done last year for the first time. It starts in April and ends in May.

Last year, the event brought 300 to 400 people to the valley, with no advertising.


Advertisement

Tourists come up, stay at the local inns and go searching for treasure in a scavenger hunt that stretches across the whole valley.

"There’s only two purposes for the event. One, it is a fun activity to do in the summer. Two, it attracts a young, outdoor, athletic, next-generation audience to the valley."

The Selectboard approved giving the marketing group $10,000 towards advertising the Adventure Challenge, which doesn’t mean the town is sponsoring the whole event. But, the town is supporting it, as it brings new people into the valley, promoting economic development.

Gilpin told the Reformer that the website, greenmountainvermont.com, is the main driver of his company, which incorporates three sites in one. It includes Amazon, Google and Living Social.

The site has gotten close to 80,000 visits since it launched in March.

"There’s really not an online resource for activities that don’t include the mountain," he said, referring to Mount Snow.

Gilpin focuses the efforts of his brand on a local level, which is mostly in support of Dover and Wilmington. He wants the Green Mountain Vermont logo to represent the information center he’s been working on building for the area.

A goal of Green Mountain Vermont is to point out spots in Deerfield Valley where people can go to hike and fish as well as have romantic dinners or celebrate weddings. The website catalogs places where people may find all different types of activities.

A digital library is being created that will not only offer maps of places to hike, but videos of hikers and the trails in the valley. There will also be videos of snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding coming soon.

Gilpin is about half way through cataloging everything.

"By this time next year, we should have the full catalog done."

The site also has an online store where visitors can purchase coffee mugs and other merchandise that supports the valley. This is the Amazon component, which also includes a way to buy dining and lodging deals as well as shop at local jewelry and clothing stores without having to go out or be in the valley.

"It’s so that the local stores don’t have to go through expenses of opening their own online store."

The Living Social element of Gilpin’s website offers deals, but mostly works as a promotional tool for Green Mountain Vermont. Last year, Living Social worked with the marketing group to promote the Adventure Challenge.

Businesses can be included on the Green Mountain Vermont website for free. There are no upfront costs for them.

Gilpin concerns himself with advertising the brand, instead of individual businesses.

"With me advertising the brand, it’s only benefiting the people in the valley."

Another prospective goal for Gilpin is to bring a film festival that originated in Los Angeles over to Vermont and the Deerfield Valley.

"I talked to the creators and they said they wanted an East Coast location. I said, ‘Let’s bring it here.’ That’s another exciting event that’s hopefully going to come here."

Gilpin is hoping that the Adventure Challenge will "explode this summer."

Sometime next year, if all goes well, Green Mountain Vermont will be looking to start something in the Brattleboro area.

"We have plans to expand to other tourist areas."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com